Do You Tip House Painters?

When I was a young college student, I took a date to a fancy Asian cuisine restaurant near our college. The food was good, but as we ate dessert, I noticed there was a penny in my ice cream. I am getting queasy culinary flashbacks now from the memory. I balked at paying a tip and the hostess argued with me. Young and naïve, I paid a dollar. I wish I could go back in time and change that. Does every profession deserve tipping? For example – should you tip house painters?

It depends.

Not every profession calls for the need to tip.

For example – when is the last time you tipped a mechanic? You probably complained that you were overcharged.

Gratuities of 15% to 20% of service cost is generally expected when you are dealing with services industry workers.

So, if you are transacting with restaurant staff, furniture movers, hotel staff, nail and salon workers, and so on, gratuities make sense.

But what about contract workers?

When you work with contractors, the price for services to be tendered is built into the contract.

House painters are essentially contract workers. You are either paying them directly or indirectly through subcontracted work.

Also, if you tip house painters, you may be causing more headaches than they are worth.

So, let’s discuss the issue and ways to save more money on your next house painting job.

Should You Tip a House Painter?

I don’t want to come off as a grinch or Grumpy Gus. But the truth is that you are under no obligation to tip a house painter if you have contracted the service.

The average house painter makes $17.39 to $27.45 an hour. They may make more if they are paid a flat fee as a subcontractor.

Some house painters make $39,000 annually. About 25% of house painters make $51,500 or more.

The point is, unless you hire a local gig worker you know is down on their luck, most professional house painters are paid well via contracting services.

But, let’s say you are not like me, and want to reward work well done with a gratuity. Well, you can tip your house painter between 15% to 20%.

However, think about how much you would have to tip a house painter.

The average cost to paint a house varies according to the size of your home. It can cost you anywhere from $1,700 to $3,700 to paint the interiors and exteriors of your home.

If you have a large, three story home, the average cost of house painting services rises to $6,000 or more.

Well, 15% of $1,700 is $255. 15% of $6,000 is $900. Most house painters work in multiple person jobs.

Are you going to tip several house painters $255 to $900 extra, on top of their contracted fee, apiece?

The average cost of a restaurant meal is $13 or more. A gratuity is called for because many in the service industry aren’t paid enough.

Most contracted house painters make good pay. But let’s say you want to pay each house painter a flat fee tip of $100 to $200 for argument’s sake.

You may be creating more problems than the house painter needs.


There are a few reasons why trying to tip house painters can cause more problems than they are worth.

For one thing, trying to tip house painters might be against the terms of the contract you signed with your contractor.

The contractor may want to ensure that the subcontractors don’t make extra money on top of their contracted pay.

Contractors and subcontractors may have to pool tips equally among the crew and then report it on their taxes.

Also, house painting is a big job. Multiple layers of painting and the covering and moving of furniture, or maneuvering around such, may be involved.

Do you tip house painters on merit? Will some get paid more than others? Won’t that cause unnecessary animosity on a contracted job?

Talk to your contractor about gratuity before assuming anything.

Also, if you are in the mood for tipping, here are some ways to save some money on your next big job.

Tips to Save Money on Your Next House Painting Jobs

Remember, I am not advising that you never tip. I am just saying a gratuity is called for more in low-paying service sector jobs.

A house painting job can cost you anywhere from $1,7000 to $6,000 as a baseline.

So, here are some ways to save on your next house painting project.

Get multiple competing bids from several contractors. Review competing estimates and look for bids that meet your budget.

Try to hire local members of the Painting and Decorating Contractors of America. Member painters must be insured and licensed, implying more professionalism.

Get a contract. Understand the cost of materials, type of work to be performed, and work hours to be performed before signing.

Do as much prep work yourself as possible beforehand. Buy ladders and scaffolding, plastic covers and mats, caulk and tarps so you won’t be charged for it. Move and cover furniture yourself. Cover all of the outlets, and so on.

Brainstorm everything you can do yourself before the job. That way, your house painting contractor can’t try to charge you extra money for unexpected work.

Tipping Alternatives

House painting is a contracted job. A lot of paint and related supplies and work hours are required to do the job.

This isn’t service sector work. It’s big business and you will pay a lot for the service.

Unless the terms aren’t parsed in the contract, you may have to pay more for unexpected work and necessary supplies.

Talk to your contractor about tipping before handing out $100 to $255 gratuities to the painting crew. It may complicate the terms of the contract.

If you are going to tip, make the arrangements with the contractor before the work starts.

Instead of a tip, you could arrange to provide cool water throughout the day and a budget lunch every day.

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